Age Specifics of Preschoolers’ Role Play in Open Object Environment



This paper is devoted to the research of preschoolers' free play in an open object environment.The results of observations showed different dynamics of play activity in different age groups (3, 4, 5 and 6 years).In the two younger groups, role renaming was observed in a third of the sample, and in the majority of children it was accompanied by certain changes in the appearance and by fragmentary play actions.Beyond 5 years the frequency of renaming increased — two-thirds of children called themselves a role name and almost all played roles.Many children created complex plots with a lot of branching.In the oldest group there was a significant decline in renaming and changing of the appearance (less than half of the children) as compared to the 5-year-olds, and almost complete absence of role play actions.This paper lists the roles that modern preschoolers reproduce in their play.The study shows that the role does not precede the play, but is born in the process of various actions, including exploratory and trialing actions, with objects.The importance of exploratory, manipulative activity for the emergence and development of the role is underlined.An open object environment promotes the development of such activity.

General Information

Keywords: free play, role play, preschoolers, multifunctional materials, open environment

Journal rubric: Educational Psychology


Funding. This work was supported by grant RFBR № 18-013-01226.

For citation: Ryabkova I.A., Smirnova E.O., Sheina E.G. Age Specifics of Preschoolers’ Role Play in Open Object Environment. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological Science and Education, 2018. Vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 75–84. DOI: 10.17759/pse.2018230607. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Kravtsov G.G., Kravtsova E.E.Psikhologiya igry (kul’turno-istoricheskii podkhod) [Psychology of play (a cultural-historical approach)].Moscow: Lev, 2017.331 p.
  2. Kravtsov G.G., Kravtsova E.E.Psikhologiya i pedagogika obucheniya doshkol’nikov.Uchebnoe posobie.[Elektronnyi resurs] [Psychology and pedagogy of learning of preschoolers].Moscow: Publ.Mozaika-Sintez, 2013.Available at: (Accessed: 08.05.2018).
  3. Ryabkova I.A.Postroenie igrovogo zamysla v svobodnoi igre doshkol’nikov [Constructing a play design in preschoolers’ free play].Voprosy psikhologii [Issues of psychology], 2016, no.4, pp.28—37.
  4. Ryabkova I.A.Osobennosti rolevogo zameshcheniya v igre doshkol’nikov s raznymi materialami [The characteristics of role substitution in preschoolers’ play with different materials].Psikhologo-pedagogicheskie issledovaniya [Psychological- Educational Studies], 2018, no.3, pp.12—19.doi: 10.17759/psyedu.2018100302 (In Russ., Engl.)
  5. Smirnova E.O., Gudareva O.V.Sostoyanie igrovoi deyatel’nosti sovremennykh doshkol’nikov [The state of play of modern preschoolers].Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie [ Psychological Science and Education], 2005, no.2, pp.76—86.(In Russ., Engl.)
  6. Smirnova E.O., Sobkin V.S.Issledovaniya igry: trudnosti i vozmozhnosti [Researching Play: Challenges and Opportunities.Kul’turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya].Kul’turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya [Cultural-Historical Psychology], 2017, no.3, pp.83— 86.doi:10.17759/chp.2017130310.
  7. Smirnova E.O., Ryabkova I.A.Rolevoe zameshchenie v raznykh predmetnykh sredakh [Characteristics of perception by preschoolers of the play in various playing environments].Voprosy psikhologii [Issues of psychology], 2018, no.1, pp.12—20.
  8. Smirnova E.O., Ryabkova I.A.Soderzhanie rolevykh igr sovremennykh doshkol’nikov [The content of modern preschoolers’ role play].Voprosy psikhologii [Issues of psychology], 2018, no.2, pp.41—52.
  9. Smirnova E.O.Psikhologo-pedagogicheskaya ekspertiza igrushek v Moskovskom gorodskom tsentre MGPPU [Psychological and educational evaluation of toys in Moscow City Center of MSUPE].Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie [Psychological Science and Education], 2011, no.2.pp.5—12.(In Russ., Engl.)
  10. El’konin D.B.Psikhologiya igry [Psychology of play].Moscow.Pedagogika, 1978.300 p.
  11. Fein G.Pretend Play in Childhood: An Integrative Review.Child Development, 1981.Vol.52, no.4, pp. 1095—1118.
  12. Trawick-Smith J., Russell H., Swaminathan S.Measuring the effects of toys on the problem-solving, creative and social behaviours of preschool children [Electronic resource].Early Child Development and Care, 2011.Vol.181, no.7, pp.909—927.doi:10.1080/ 03004430.2010.503892 (Accessed: 13.07.2018).

Information About the Authors

Irina A. Ryabkova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Department of Preschool Pedagogy and Psychology, Faculty of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Elena O. Smirnova, Doctor of Psychology, Рrofessor of the Department of Preschool Pedagogics and Psychology of the Faculty of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia

Elena G. Sheina, lecturer at the Department of Preschool Pedagogy and Psychology, Faculty of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 2532
Previous month: 13
Current month: 24


Total: 936
Previous month: 3
Current month: 7